Sep05

Celebrities & Churches Galvanize Efforts To Raise Funds for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Categories // LA Focus, Top Stories Tuesday, 05 September 2017

Celebrities & Churches Galvanize Efforts To Raise Funds for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

From Kevin Hart challenging fellow celebrities to donate $25K to victims of Hurricane Harvey and Houston’s relief efforts in a heart-wrenching video to singer Carl Thomas who helped to rescue victims from the rising waters in Houston, the Internet was awash in people responding in kind to the images from Houston. 

The challenge from Hart—who initially pledged $25K, but raised it to $50K— drew positive responses from T.I., DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj, and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, all of whom pledged the $25K. Chris Paul, who was recently traded to the Houston Rockets, donated $75K and Chris Brown announced that he would donate $100K, stating “I accept the challenge and I implore and encourage anyone else to make a change for this, please donate.” Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt initiated a crowdfunding campaign that —at post—had raised $9.2 million to aid in relief efforts. Sandra Bullock and Rachael Ray donated $1 million each. The Kardashian family pooled their monies together to contribute a whopping $500,000 and Beyonce, a native of Houston, released a statement on the devastation, pledging that she would help as many as she could. “My heart goes out to my hometown, Houston, and I remain in constant prayer for those affected and for the rescuers who have been so brave and determined to do so much to help,” read the statement issued to the Houston Chronicle. “I am working closely with my team at Beygood as well as my pastor (Rudy Rasmus at St. John’s in downtown Houston) to implement a plan to help as many as we can.” Houston churches have been on the front lines, even if somewhat limited. Houston’s Church Without Walls (pastored by Ralph West) was attempting to open its doors as a shelter, but had to scratch those plans when officials were unable to get the resources to support the effort. Meanwhile, their North campus had taken on water and another location was surrounded by impassable roads, but church officials stressed that they would assist as soon as they were able. After some controversy, Joel Osteen opened up his Lakewood Church to receive “anyone who needs shelter”, while urging Houstonians to “stay strong and know that God has you in the palm of its hand.” Associate Pastor John Gray said the church was taking on the charge to rescue its own, tweeting, “We are working to ensure we can reach people ourselves. please send your info, family name, number of adults & kids to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..” In a statement released by Co-Pastor Bridget Hilliard of Houston’s New Light Church, she said she and her husband Bishop I.V. Hilliard had never seen such devastation. “We are diligently working, planning and mobilizing on how we will help our church and community rebuild,” Hilliard stated. “Our desire is to see our city totally recovered and restored. My confidence is that because we have been there for so many in their time of crisis, God will raise up others to help us according to Ephesians 6:8.” In fact, churches around the country are rallying to aid those in southeast Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey. Here in Los Angeles, churches are also gearing up to help in relief efforts. The Baptist church community is coordinating a massive fundraiser on September 24th, bringing together five Baptist conventions—Baptist Minister’s Conference (Pastor Xavier Thompson); California Missionary Baptist State Convention (Rev. E. Wayne Gaddis); California Baptist State Convention (President Elect Rev. Welton Pleasant); Western Baptist State Convention (Dr. Joe B. Hardwick) and Full Gospel California District (Bishop Johnny Withers)— to assist in the hurricane relief effort. “This is a time for giving,” said organizing Pastor Xavier Thompson. “If there was ever a time for the body of Christ to unite, this is an unprecedented opportunity to let our light shine.” In addition to “relentless prayers”, Holman United Methodist Church (Holman UMC) is coordinating efforts with its ecumenical and community partners to “coordinate compassionate actions in collaboration with the United Methodist Commission On Relief Agency; to receive financial donations to purchase items for Relief Kits – (cost per kit is $65); and is accepting donations at through their website to aid in relief efforts. “We’re assessing the matter and organizing a task force to respond to the catastrophe and tragedy in Southeast Texas and Houston,” said Pastor Edgar Boyd of First A.M.E. Church. “We’ll also be engaging members of the congregation to make contributions and we will be sending resources —financial as well as material — to churches we have operating in distribution points in Corpus Christi and Houston.” West Angeles Church in conjunction with the National Relief Organization of the Church of God in Christ, COGIC Charities has established a collection drive to send necessary supplies to be distributed via churches and various outreach organizations to aid the relief efforts to those victimized by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and surrounding areas. “It is my belief that the church is the first responder to tragedies in life and Hurricane Harvey is but one example,” said Inglewood-based pastor, Dr. Beverly “Bam” Crawford. “Even as this tragedy is still unfolding, we’re in the early stages of coordinating an effort to assist in whatever way we can—either through fellow Houston churches or relief organizations and will ask our parishioners to help as well. Our belief is that they’ll know we’re Christians because of our love.” 

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